FORT MYERS, Fla. – After allowing two goals in the first 13 minutes of its home opener Monday night against Michigan (0-0-2), the FGCU men’s soccer team (0-1-1) fought back with two second-half goals to earn a quality 2-2 double-overtime tie at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
The Wolverines scored in the 7th and 13th minutes as FGCU came out flat despite 1,051 vocal supporters. However, the Eagles gave those fans a lot to cheer about in the second half as the Green and Blue flipped the pitch in their favor and tallied both goals exactly two minutes apart in the 65th and 67th minutes.
Junior forward Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella) converted his second penalty kick in as many games to pull FGCU within one, and senior striker Dylan Sacramento (Winnipeg, Manitoba/York University/Bill Crothers S.S.) added his first goal of the campaign in electrifying fashion off a primary assist from Ruiz to secure the Eagles’ first result of the year.
“We were extremely flat to start the game,” stated FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn, whose team found itself down two goals for the second-straight game. “I challenged the guys at halftime to see what they were made of, and they responded very well. Some of our younger guys really played strong. It was exciting for me to see us get at them (the Wolverines) and respond the way we did because I was a little nervous heading into halftime.”
Michigan – coming off a scoreless double-overtime draw at #19 USF Friday night – were the aggressors from the start, dominating possession in the opening 15 minutes and being rewarded with the two goals.
The first came off the left foot of freshman Jack Hallahan, who settled a ball at the top of the 18 and laced a shot just under the center of the crossbar and over the out-stretched arm of FGCU keeper Sawyer Jackman (Chicago, Ill./St. Charles East HS). The second came as a result of an FGCU turnover deep in its own end as Michael Kapitula sent a cross to the back post after the steal and perfectly on to the diving head of Ivo Cerda.
FGCU finally settled in after U-M attempted the first five shots of the contest and eventually had quality chances midway through the half. The Eagles forced Michigan keeper Evan Louro into two first-half saves and actually entered the halftime break with a 10-8 shot advantage.
Following the intermission, the Eagles came out flying and flipped the script on the Wolverines as they attempted the first five shots of the second stanza. The third effort of the five appeared to be ticketed for the inside-left netting, but Ruiz’s left-footed volley was stopped brilliantly by a diving Louro to keep the clean sheet at that point. Junior Nicolas Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde) nearly trimmed the deficit in half a few minutes later, but his header off a set piece just missed the frame beyond the far post.
After the initial opening flurry by FGCU, U-M settled in and was content with playing deliberately, regaining the better form of the two sides for about the next 10 minutes before the Eagles again put their offense on display, but this time it would result in goals.
Freshman Shak Adams (Antioch, Tenn./Cane Ridge HS) was taken down in the box following a reset off an FGCU corner, and up stepped PK specialist Ruiz. The junior preseason all-ASUN member calmly deposited his seventh penalty kick of his career in as many opportunities – three more than any other player in program history.
The second strike of the evening came quickly off an FGCU counter. Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS) – who ultimately got credited with the secondary assist – played a thru ball to Sacramento, who deftly touched it on to Ruiz. The Spaniard then delivered a brilliant one-timed flick backward right on to Sacramento’s run, and the Canadian did not miss, sending a low, driven, one-timed effort from about 22 yards out inside the left post to knot the game at 2-2.
Michigan tried for its own answer two minutes later, but Kapitula’s point-blank header was stuffed out by Jackman, who was making his first start of the year and third of the sophomore’s career. Arguably FGCU’s next-best effort in regulation came off the left foot of freshman Miguel Perez (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay HS), whose close-angle shot with just more than 90 seconds remaining in regulation was stopped by Louro.
The Eagles nearly had the game won in the first overtime session when Adams had a shot that was deflected by Louro but then hung in the air and careened off the right post. Just a couple minutes later in the 10-minute period, Jackman was equal to the task as Hallahan was poised for his second goal of the evening before the FGCU keeper thwarted the close-angle effort from the left just inside the box.
Nearly the exact same scenario played out in the second overtime as Jackman again faced Hallahan with very little defensive help in front of him, but the sophomore stood firm and made his third – and final – save of the night with a minute left in the contest to preserve the tie.
The Eagles finished the game with a 29-18 shot advantage and forced Louro into eight stops. The corner opportunities were tied at 12 each, and the Eagles concluded the evening with a 10-5 edge in shots on goal. Sacramento led all players with eight shots, while Ruiz tallied six.
FGCU now heads to the West Coast to face Loyola Marymount (0-2, but coming off a 2-1 double-overtime loss at #6 Syracuse Sunday) on Friday, Sept. 2, at 10 p.m. Eastern, and UC Irvine (0-2) on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.
For up-to-the minute information and a behind-the-scenes look at the FGCU men’s soccer program, follow on Twitter @FGCU_MSoccer, Instagram @FGCU_MSoccer, Facebook /FGCUMSoccer and YouTube /FGCUAthletics.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached six professional players and 54 ASUN All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just five years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to three ASUN Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and has won an unprecedented six-straight ASUN regular-season championships. His teams have been ranked nationally on several occasions by multiple media outlets. Now in his 14th season as a head coach, Butehorn has a 115-91-26 (.552) overall record, 81-59-22 (.569) mark in his nine seasons at FGCU and 48-17-6 (.718) record in ASUN contests.
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FGCU Athletics sponsors events throughout the year to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.